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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 11, 2019 09:44 AM
From: Representative John A. Lawrence
To: All House members
Subject: COSPONSOR MEMOS - Helping Pennsylvania's Struggling Dairy Farmers - Package of Three Bills
Dear Colleagues –

In the near future, I will introduce three initiatives designed to help Pennsylvania’s struggling dairy farmers. Taken together, these efforts are a comprehensive response to the challenges facing our dairy farmers. I would welcome your cosponsorship on all of these proposals.

#1 – Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones – This legislation, similar to the Keystone Opportunity Zone program, would provide tax incentives to locate new dairy processing plants in Pennsylvania, encouraging a market for Pennsylvania milk.

#2 - Resolution asking the US FDA to enforce the standard of identity for milk – Many farmers believe confusion exists in the marketplace as to what actually constitutes “milk.” This resolution asks the federal government to enforce their own standard of identity for milk.

#3 – Milk Marketing Board and Department of Revenue coordination on milk premiums – This legislation gives the MMB the ability to coordinate the collection and distribution of MMB milk premiums with the Department of Revenue, ensuring these consumer-paid premiums get to struggling Pennsylvania Dairy Farmers.

Document #1

Introduced as HB1223

Description: DETAILS
#1 – Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones (Providing Tax Incentives for New Dairy Processing Facilities)
Based on the long standing Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program, this initiative would designate several “Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones” or “KODZ”s across the Commonwealth to encourage new or additional processing capacity for Pennsylvania milk.  Increasingly, people are drinking less milk while eating more yogurt, cheese, butter, ice cream, etc.  Attracting milk processing plants to Pennsylvania provides new and increased markets for Pennsylvania milk, and converts our milk into value-added products that can be shipped around the country – even around the world. 
Qualifying processing facilities would be required to create new jobs and utilize primarily Pennsylvania milk in exchange for tax incentives similar to those offered under the KOZ program.  These new processing facilities would create significant increased demand and provide new markets for dairy farmers in the Commonwealth. 

Document #2

Introduced as HR222

Description: #2 – Resolution asking the US Food and Drug Administration to enforce the standard of identity for milk
Many farmers have approached me concerning the use of the term “milk” for plant based beverages, including “soy milk,” “almond milk,” and “cashew milk.”  The US Food and Drug Administration maintains standards of identity for a wide variety of food products, including things as mundane as “margarine” and “macaroni.”  The concept behind this is to ensure consumers know what they are buying, and that there is one consistent definition across the industry for exactly what constitutes margarine, macaroni, or in this case, milk. 
Existing FDA regulations define milk to be “obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows,” but the FDA has not enforced their own regulation.  This resolution petitions the US Food and Drug Administration to take steps to enforce their own regulation to ensure clarity in the marketplace around the term “milk.”     

Document #3

Introduced as HB1224

Description: #3 – Milk Marketing Board and Department of Revenue coordination on milk premiums
Existing law and regulations permit the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board (MMB) to establish premiums on milk sold in Pennsylvania.  For over thirty years, the MMB’s Over-Order Premium (OOP) has been built into the state-minimum price for milk, with the intent that the funds collected through the premium would benefit Pennsylvania Dairy Farmers.  In plain English, the idea is that consumers pay a little more for milk with the understanding that the extra money supports Pennsylvania farmers. 
Many farmers question how many, if any, of these OOP dollars actually come back to the Pennsylvania Dairy Farmer.  Currently, the MMB has no infrastructure to directly collect and distribute the milk premiums.  This legislation would give the MMB the ability, but not the requirement, to coordinate the collection and distribution of milk premiums with the Department of Revenue, which has an existing infrastructure in place.  This proposal would significantly increase accountability and transparency on how this state-mandated money is collected and paid, and more importantly, would ensure that the funds actually get to dairy farmers.      
Your support of these initiatives would be greatly appreciated.